Right after September 11, 2001, I began to notice the broad public statements about radical Islam that flatly contradicted what I knew from my own personal relationships and study. As the nation was reeling from the horrific acts of 9/11, I admit that I briefly bought into some of those statements, as if they applied to most Muslims.
Quickly, though, I thought of the young man from a Muslim culture who had worked at my bookstore. He was anything but an adherent of radical Islam. In fact, he immediately enlisted in the U.S. armed forces, right after graduating with honors from his high school in Stockbridge, GA, a small city in the southern region of metropolitan Atlanta.
Whenever a politician or rabid commentator would make sweeping statement about radical Islam, I would think of the many Muslims I have known since my years at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and would view the comments through the lens of my experience and my academic studies.
I’m writing today to urge my readers to bookmark Islamophobia Today, the website of Americans Against Islamophobia, or search for the group’s page on Facebook. You are likely to gain a perspective which will seldom receive significant coverage in the mainstream media, which shows a definite preference for the video-friendly destructive actions of radical Islam. Many of the postings at Islamophobia Today are from highly regarded U.S. media outlets. There is nothing extreme at this website.
Whatever may be occurring around the globe involving violent extremists in radical islam, we can work for better understanding in our own local communities. That understanding begins by informing ourselves of the many ways in which Islamophobia shapes our attitudes and beliefs.
CNN raised the question, “Is America Islamophobic?” as far back as September 2010.